"Go ye therefore and teach all nations . . ." Matthew 28:19

"Go ye therefore and teach all nations . . ." Matthew 28:19

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Weeks 51 - 54 (August 2 - August 30) - Transfers, Training and Miscellaneous Stuff


Jordan made the following comments in a email about the branch in Shawinigan, "The branch is really good! I love the members! They're hilarious and involved which is great. We attend all three meetings
We have very few youth so they don't have mutual.  

Last week he emailed us, the following exchange, 

So transfer calls on Saturday went something like this:

Zone Leaders: "Are you guys ready for your transfer call?"

Me: "I guess so."

Zone Leaders: "Oh no, we don't think you're ready for this. This is crazy! So who wants to go first?"

Elder Houston: "Elder Houston does."

Zone Leaders: "Elder Houston you will be...Leaving."

Elder Houston: "Really?"

Zone Leaders: "Yes but not far. You are going to Trois-Rivieres." (which is in our district. He is moving 20 minutes away.)

Elder Houston: *Celebrating with assorted woo's and yah!*

Zone Leaders: "Elder Houston. Do you have morning sickness pills?"

Elder Houston: "Morning sickness pills?"

Zone Leaders: "Yeah, cause you're having a baby." (Training)

Elder Houston: *laughing and celebrating*

Zone Leaders: "Elder DiReda you will be staying. Also, Elder Houston do you have any extra morning sickness pills?"

Me: "No, no, please no, no, nooooooooooooooooo!" (meme from Steve Carrell from "the office")

Elder Houston: "I think I have one to spare."

Zone Leaders: "Good, because Elder DiReda you will also be training."





P-Day emailing and my new haircut.  Pretty spiffy!! But not as good as the one my dad gives me.





Monday, August 22, 2016

Weeks 43 - 50 (June 14 - August 2)

I am taking the liberty of summarizing Jordan's mission experience over the last 2 months.  To say that Ottawa (Fallowfield specifically) has been extremely difficult for him would be an understatement. 

Specifically he said, "I've gotten tired of writing long weekly emails. They take time and are exhausting to do and Fallowfield has been repetitive week to week anyways so they would not only bore me to write but bore everyone to read." 

Another excerpt from an email he sent during this time-frame reads as follows:

"A lot more service this week. Good news is that I'll have a refined skill set with experience by the time I get home. I also don't think I'll be grossed out by much anymore. I have done some seriously disgusting jobs. Not much else to report. Same old same old."  

He offered us the following advice as we prepared to depart on the Pioneer Trek, "Be ma and pa to them the way you are to us. Talk, joke, tease, love, make them feel special. Who knows who they are and what their story is. But you can help turn their story around."

In his July 18th email, he indicated that he and his companion were being transferred and he would be going to Shawinigan which is a city where French is primarily spoken. He seemed upbeat about his transfer out of Ottawa.

Jordan's emails for the most part during this period of time have been filled with frustration and disappointment.  He has expressed more than once that he feels "worthless, weak, and alone." Specifically, he said, "I feel it's my fault when people don't progress or turn us away and even though they have their agency I take it personally."


On August 1st we received the following email.  

"I'll write a short summary of this week. We walked. It was hard and I complained a lot in my head but halfway through Tuesday I had an epiphany. We didn't have anything scheduled so the day was devoted to contacting, knocking, passbys, etc. and for the most part we walked and it was hot. And then I realized I was walking with you guys. We both were walking in the heat doing hard work probably wishing we were somewhere else. That was a tender mercy that I loved. It was hard and it was a rough day, but it made me feel closer to you guys. Other than that not a lot to report. Talked to a lot of people, taught a new investigator who's progressing a lot even though he's going slowly checking for authenticity. I do miss home a lot more here though. We are by a big river so we will constantly see canoes and boats pulling people on wakeboards and tubes and I miss home. We will walk in the evening and smell camp fire and or barbecues and it makes me miss home. But oh well. Life goes on.  Love you guys."

All in all, Jordan seems to be on an upswing.  Each email has progressively improved since he transferred from Ottawa to Shawinigan.  




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Week 42 - 1st Transfer in Ottawa

Already another 6 weeks come and gone! Thankfully both of us will be staying in Fallowfield. It's really weird though because this is our Mission President's last transfer before he goes home! It's going to be weird and cool having two mission presidents during my mission. 

Anyways, this week again was filled with a lot of service. Painting, building garden boxes, walking dogs, mowing lawns, etc. It's enjoyable! We learn a lot of life skills/tricks and we are able to share a message before we leave! 

A cool experience I had this week was when I was on exchanges with Elder Ferrier. We were passing by a member and while I was grabbing my bag out of the back seat of the car he walked up to the lady that lives next door, she was just standing on her porch, and he started talking to her. In my mind I'm thinking, "Oh no he thinks that's the member! I gotta stop him!" So I walk up next to him and whisper "Wrong house" and he turns and says "Yeah I know." Lesson 1. Talk to everyone regardless. He then continues to ask her about her faith and whether or not she believes in God and Jesus Christ. She tells us a bit about her Roman Catholic background but how she turned away from organized religions because of things that happened in her past. So Elder Ferrier asks her what she believes in. She said she believes in an energy that is in everything and that surrounds us. He then responds and says that we believe that energy is God and that He is our Eternal Father, and he continues to go through the basics of the Restoration, had me introduce the Book of Mormon, and we gave one to her and she said she would read it. (For those who may not have found that as funny/crazy as the four of us Elders did afterwards read Alma 18 when Ammon teaches King Lamoni. It was pretty close). 

Other than that we had several good lessons with investigators and recent-converts who were engaged and asked really good thought provoking questions. It's hard sometimes to have good lessons especially when the commitments fall through or they won't even agree to the commitment but baby steps. Little by little they are opening up and being more involved and Christ is beginning to work miracles with them. 

Love you guys! Stay safe! Stay faithful!

Love,

Elder DiReda

Photos:
Garden box before and after + the second one we made
What our investigators called a minor meal (steak, fish, steamed vegetables, couscous)
More barbecue photos



















Week 41 - June!!

So it's June already (well tomorrow)...not really sure where all that time disappeared to. Not a lot of time to write this week. We had a barbecue with our district today for Sister Dexter's birthday which was a lot of fun! Elder Ferrier and I played soccer with a Middle Eastern family, talked with them a bit, and had amazing food! Sorry I can't write more, but we have lessons tonight that we are getting ready for. 

Love you guys! Have a great week! 

Stay safe, stay faithful!

Love,

Elder DiReda

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Week 40 - Blessings!!!

Bonjour tout le monde! Comment allez vous?

I miss you guys so much! It`s crazy to think it`s already been over 9 months! It still feels like I just left the MTC! Anyways this week we had a few really uplifting moments that both caught me by surprise and rekindled my fire to keep working hard. One of which happened while we were at a dinner appointment. We were eating barbeque outside and the family began telling us about several Syrian refugee families that had just moved in. They hardly spoke a word of English and they need help. Well we jumped, quite literally jumped, at that opportunity. We arranged for a time to meet with one of their neighbors who speaks a bit of Arabic and can introduce us to them and help us know what they need. From there our hope is that the ward pushes us out of the way and takes over completely going above and beyond. These families have been through a lot and it has taken a toll on all of them. Including the young kids. One of the smallest kids had been drawing and coloring with this family we were visiting and had drawn a family running and crying from falling bombs in the sky. They`ve been through so much, I hope we can help make a difference in their lives. 

The second event that happened this week was an investigator and 3 of his kids, all of whom we had never met before, came to church for the first time! Amazing and incredibly kind Haitian family that we are going to start teaching this week! All in all we have been blessed this week! 

Pictures:
-The Worner`s had their baby!!!!! 
-Rum cake that a non-member gave us that contained a measurable amount of alcohol in it...
-blister from service
-study room and bedroom in our ottawa apartment


















Week 39 - Service, Service, and more Service

Bonjour à tous! Comment va la vie?


This week in Ottawa we spent the majority of our week doing service (must be springtime). We went on exchanges with our Zone Leaders and we all went to a non-members house and helped her clean out thorny vines from her hedge. They were EVERYWHERE!!! They were growing from her neighbor's yard and bless their hearts they must have a million and one other priorities because their yard isn't one of them. The rest of the week was a combination of walking dogs, fixing doors, moving, setting up furniture, and power washing back patios. We had quite the experience when we helped a family move. They needed help setting up their beds (they were new and imported from China I believe) so we set up the king sized bed no problem. When we started on their daughter's bunk bed it seemed like we had begun a 5,000 piece puzzle. So many different types of screws and nuts and bolts and boards. It didn't seem that difficult once we sorted and organized everything, then we read the instructions...We were expected to drill most of the holes with no indication of where they were supposed to go besides a small drawing with no measurements or reference point. So we were excused since the family didn't have the tools necessary for us to do that. 

Yesterday we had an exceptional devotional on the power of the Book of Mormon. The presenter, the first counselor to our mission president, shared stories and examples from the Book of Mormon and the Bible about faith and the power of the scriptures. One analogy I liked that he used was that spiritually each day when we wake up it's as if we are in the mall looking at the map that shows the outline of the mall where everything is and a big marker that shows where we are. Regardless of whether or not we want to be there or regardless of where those around us are, we are where we are and we need to decide where we are going. Each choice, each decision determines if we move forwards or backwards so we need to be focusing on the Gospel to help us make decisions and direct our actions. It's easier said than done but I know blessings flow when we make the Gospel the focus of our days and lives. I love you all and wish you all the best this week. 

Stay safe, stay faithful!

Love,

Elder DiReda

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 38 - Ottawa, Tri-lingual Companion, and Service

Hey everyone! Last week was crazy busy so we didn't have much of a p-day or any time to email. My punishment for not emailing my parents was I contracted food poisoning on Thursday.  It was not good that's all I'm gonna say about it.

So, as most of you know by now, I'm in Ottawa! My area is a suburban type area that reminds me a lot of home as far as the landscape (minus the mountains). When I first got to Ottawa I realized a few things. 

1. My companion and I were both new to our area which in the mission field is referred to as white washing 
2. My companion speaks fluent Spanish and French and is learning English so I will be able to continue working on my French and learn a bit of Spanish even though I'm in an English area. 

The first week was interesting as we made A LOT of calls and drop-in visits trying to meet members and set up appointments. I learned that when you're both new to the area people are more willing to let you in. 

We've met an awesome member who wants desperately to change his life around to come back to church and overcome his cigarette addiction so we've been helping and teaching him a lot as well as his two sons and girlfriend. We met with an engaged couple, one of whom is a friend of Mark Parent (my friend from my last area). 

We had amazing discussions with them about religion and life and their story, all while they took us on a walk around Parliament and the river in downtown Ottawa. 

We've walked a members crazy ridge-back dogs. They are strong and like to run, which is fine because we need exercise as well. On one of these occasions before we even got to the park the dog I was walking, Chomps, started pulling me trying to run so I indulged him. Wasn't quite a full sprint but it was a decent run. As we were running there were big trees that normally wouldn't be an issue if chomps could read my mind but alas he can't and Chomps decided at the last minute to dart to the other side of the tree and I found myself clothes-lined on the tree by the leash.  My companion sure had a good laugh. We've also done a significant amount of service in these past two weeks, but then again it is springtime. We've helped people move, prepare their gardens, rake dead grass and leaves, and build fences. It's been a crazy yet productive time here. I've been terrible at taking pictures since I've been here but I will be better this week. 

Love you all! Keep doing the little things and take a little more time to find the tender mercies of the Lord in your lives. He works in mysterious ways. It's really cool and sometimes a bit funny to see the ways He looks out for us and sends us blessings. 

Love,

Elder DiReda

Week 37 - First P-Day in Ottawa

Hey I don't have much time to email today. We have service all day for different people. I'll answer your questions all next Sunday (Mother's Day) and more. Love you so much parentals!!! You're the best!!!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Week 36 - Tranfers

Hey everyone! Sorry this won't be a long email I've been crazy busy these past few days and will continue to be until Wednesday because I'm getting transferred to Fallowfield, Ottawa! Where is that you say? Well here is a small map and some pics that show you where I will be going.

Image result for ottawa
Image result for ottawa


Image result for ottawa










I'm moving from a Branch to a Ward and from French to English. I'm not sure which will be the bigger shock to me. We've had a great week though with service and visits. It was really cool because on Tuesday we were doing service at a food bank and there were young adult guys there helping also. 
They were young men who had dropped out of high school and their service was related somehow to them getting their GED's. We got to talk to them a bit about life and religion and stuff like that. It was really cool because they talked to us as normal human beings. I know it sounds weird, but some much of the time when people we don't know talk to us they speak to us and treat us like we are aliens, or sometimes like Jehovah's Witnesses which isn't much better from their vantage point.  But these guys talked with us like friends. It was a tender mercy for me because as a missionary I sometimes feel isolated and like everyone is treating me like I'm not a real person. I frequently look back on letters and cards that have been sent to me since I've been on my mission and there is one in particular that has advice in it that I've tried to incorporate into my life. 

My friend who wrote me this letter is currently serving a mission right now and she said that when trials have come her way one line of scripture has continuously popped into her head, "Be still and know that I am God." It is relieving and comforting when unexpected situations and trials come our way to remember that God has a plan for everyone. He has a plan for us right now in our lives. He has a plan for us to overcome the things that we struggle with. Remembering that He is aware of us and cares about us, the Almighty God knows us individually, has brought me comfort and strength. D&C 121:7-8 "7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; 8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes." 

He will never abandon us even when we feel lonely and abandoned by everyone. We are never strangers to Him but sometimes He can be a stranger to us if we make it that way. We need to continuously reach out to Him in gratitude and love asking for His divine help and grace to surround us. 

I love you all and wish you all the best for this week! Stay safe! Stay faithful!

Love,

Elder DiReda

Photos:
1. The best juice ever!
2. Our healthy Sunday lunch
3. Salomé, Caleb, Elder Perkes and I on a mini hike
4. Mustaches with the Worner's

















Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Week 35 - Zone Conference

We had Zone Conference this week which was really great! We went back over the Missionary Broadcast that occurred a few months ago which was incredible. A few things that really struck me from the trainings were:

1) If we want a stronger desire to teach and share the Gospel, we should learn and study more on the Atonement,

2) We are the instruments, not the Spirit, and

3) Commitments include: An invitation to act/change, a promise of blessings they will receive if they keep the commitment, a testimony of why the commitment is important, and a follow-up later on.

I really liked these points that we discussed during this Zone Conference because they answered questions I had and they humbled me. As I've mentioned before I don't like talking to people randomly on the street. I don't know why but it freaks me out and I hate doing it. I've been trying to get better at doing it but it's continued to be a large struggle for me. 

1) If we want a stronger desire to teach and share the Gospel, we should learn and study more on the Atonement. This should have been more obvious to me in the past but I'm grateful it was mentioned in our training. It makes sense. If we want a greater desire to teach and share the Gospel with all those we come in contact with then we should study and learn about the Atonement. Why? Because if we have a greater understanding of what the Atonement really enables us to accomplish and become, we realize how imperative it is to share this knowledge with everyone. The ability to become clean from all sins, pains, afflictions. To start again and to progress. To be able to live with our Heavenly Father again. No one deserves to not have that knowledge and opportunity.

2) We are the instruments, not the Spirit. I don't know why this is a lesson I am constantly in need of being taught but hopefully one of these days I'll get it. For a lesson we prepare and go over what we are going to share, questions we want to ask, and the commitment we want to extend. One important thing to remember is that we as missionaries can only take the message to their hearts. It is the role of the Holy Ghost to take it into their hearts. For me it has been far too easy to think of the Holy Ghost as the cheat sheet or the backup. By this I mean that during a lesson if I would reach a point when I didn't know what to add or ask I would have a silent prayer in my heart asking to know what to say next. Instead I should always be asking and focusing on the Spirit as the lesson progresses to always be attentive to what He wants me to say next. He isn't there for us to use when we get stuck or lost, rather we are there to say the words He needs us to say so He can bear powerful testimony of their truthfulness. He is the writer and we are the scribes. 

3) Commitments include: An invitation to act/change, a promise of blessings they will receive if they keep the commitment, a testimony of why the commitment is important, and a follow-up later on. I learned this for the first time in mission prep. before my mission from Jacob Ferrell shortly after he returned from his mission and since then I have managed to forget repeatedly to extend commitments in this manner. Extending commitments is good but without the promise of blessings and testimony there is less power and importance that comes with the invitation and without the follow-up there's almost no point in asking them to do something in the first place. When we invite someone to act we are helping them repent, or change their lives to be in accordance with the Lord's teachings. Too many times I have invited someone to read a specific chapter or chapters in the Book of Mormon without the blessings and testimony. To them it must seem like I'm giving them meaningless homework and without the motivation of getting a grade they may forget about it the minute we leave their homes. If we promise blessings however and testify it tells them the why. Why it's important to read or to keep the specific commandment. How I know this will bless them based on experiences from my life, and the Holy Ghost can bear a strong testimony that what we are asking them to do will bless them and it is what Heavenly Father wants us to do. 3 simple lessons that I continue to relearn over and over but someday I'll get them down. 

One more thing I'd like to share from this week was a discussion we had with Michael (the member we have phone lessons with 3 times a week) from 1 Nephi 1. This chapter I've probably read more times than any other chapter in the Book of Mormon and it amazes me how what we talked about with Michael never came to my mind. Lehi is the prophet and he is praying for the people of Jerusalem when he is taken away in a vision where he is shown incredible things and is told to warn Jerusalem of destruction that will come unless they repent. Lehi then went and preached to the people to repent so as to be kept from destruction. The people reject him and seek to end his life but as the chapters go on the Lord warns him and his family to leave to the desert. What we discussed with Michael was the immediate obedience. He believed what he was shown. He could've passed it off as a weird dream but rather he accepted what he was shown and acted on it with obedience and faith. He was then rejected. He could've then dismissed what he saw in the vision because what he was instructed to do didn't seem to make any difference and that he was foolish for following that prompting but rather he continued to be faithful. He knew that the Lord's plan was greater than his own and he submitted to what the Lord instructed him to do. 1 Nephi 1:20 "...But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." I know that was true in Lehi's time and I know it is true today. 

The Lord's tender mercies are all around us because of our faith. He will deliver us as we strive to do what He asks of us. He may not deliver us in the way that we think He will, but He will deliver us. 

Transfer calls are this Saturday! It's crazy how quickly transfers are going by. It's even crazier to me that I'm almost finished with my 7th month in Rimouski. Time flies! 

I love you all and hope you all have incredible weeks! Stay safe! Stay faithful! I promise you that the Lord's blessings will be poured out upon you as you do what is right. I have seen it in my own life and I know it can be in yours too. God is no respecter of persons so if He is blessing me then each and everyone of you is able to be blessed. I love you guys!

Love,

Elder DiReda

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Week 34 - God's Love

I love the weeks following conference because the lessons with members and investigators are so much stronger. The Prophet and his Apostles can put things into words much better than I will ever be able to. 

We focused a lot on Elder Uchtdorf's and Elder Holland's Sunday remarks on never giving up and always continuing on because with the Lord we are never shattered beyond repair nor are we beyond His saving hand. 

What I noticed most about our lessons recently is those we teach have opened up so much more about questions and concerns they have. What struck me about these experiences is how much better we were able to answer their questions and address their concerns when we simply let them do 90% of the talking. We listen as they explain their specific concerns and describe their experiences in an effort to resolve them for themselves. We pose questions here and there for better understanding, but what was amazing was how they would talk themselves through their concerns and eventually find the answer for themselves. 

For example, in one of our lessons we talked about God's love for each one of us and the member we were visiting with talked about how she always struggles to feel and recognize God's love for her. She talked about how she knew that He loves all His children so the question wasn't whether or not He loved her, but how she could discern His love. We listened and asked her what she was thinking it would feel like and what she was expecting it to be, and she thought about it and started by saying she thought it would be an overwhelming joy far above normal everyday happiness. 

We then talked about how God works through small and simple means and that even though occasionally there are amazing spiritual experiences, more often than not it's in the little feelings, the tender mercies of life, a feeling of peace and comfort, a feeling of gratitude when we think on all the blessings we have in life. Thinking about it now I've found it's similar to the things my dad would do and would have us do for my mom. Granted there were occasions when he would buy her flowers and a gift or a card or they would go on a date night, but mostly it was the small things he would do and would encourage us to do. Tidy up the house, clear the sink of dishes, vacuum and/or sweep, dust, take out the garbage, have our homework done earlier, and doing a load of laundry. The small things that are easily overlooked but can make the whole difference. 

God's love is similar. I've recently started reading in the Old Testament and after the flood the Lord made a promise to Noah that He would never again destroy the earth by flood and as a sign of His promise after each time it rained there would be a bow across the sky. A rainbow. A simple thing we are all to accustomed to but a sign of God's love for His children that has existed since the time of Noah. Then there is the beautiful springtime, which we associate with rebirth, when things blossom and bloom and erupt with color and a newness of life.  He created this world for us to live on, but He didn't just create it to sustain life. He filled it with beauty and variety. And there are infinitely many other tender mercies and signs of His love that He gives to us daily that often times we bypass without thinking twice. If we ever question His love for us we need only take time to look around us. The hymn "Count your Blessings" has so much more meaning to me now that I have taken time to read and really think about the verses.

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
  3. Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
  4. Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
  5. And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  6. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—money cannot buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  7. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

God has truly given us so much we need only think about it all and we can be quickly overwhelmed with how much God has given to us and done for us. I hope and pray that you never doubt the love our Father in Heaven has for you individually, but if you do please look at the world around you. Look at everything and everyone God has given and sent your way. Living a righteous life is not living an easy life, but because we have Christ on our side supporting us it is a much easier and by far a much happier life. 

I love you all! Have a great week! Stay safe, stay faithful!

Love,

Elder DiReda

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Week 33 - La Conférence Générale

Bonjour à tous! 

This was a slower week for us lesson wise, but we accomplished a LOT of planning and goal setting so that was awesome for us! Although our teaching pool right now is small we are seeing miracles among our members. When I got here we visited a less-active member who wasn't reading her scriptures very often and who hadn't been coming to church. Now she's an active member who's constantly reaching out to other ward members to help strengthen them and include them. She's talking about our beliefs to her family and friends, and she's working towards her Patriarchal Blessing and going to the Temple. This has been truly incredible to me. She is the only member in a family of atheists and she's not only retaining her faith and standards but also expounding upon them. I love this Branch and I love the members with all my heart! 

I sincerely hope each and everyone of you was able to watch some, if not all of, General Conference. This picture I think adequately describes how conference goes for me.

 

How amazing to be able to receive guidance, support, and counsel from the living Prophet and Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ twice a year at the least. I loved the promise of Elder Eyring to start out the Saturday morning session of conference. "There will be an opportunity for our hearts to be softened in the next few days." I loved that promise. 

We all have aspects of life in which we need our hearts softened so that we can become better disciples. Listen with the Spirit and make those necessary changes and we will be happier and more at peace. The greatest leader was also the greatest follower (Elder Owen). In life we are all leaders and all followers. We set examples for everyone around us and as members of the Church we carry with us at all times the name of Christ. We follow the counsel of the Prophet and the Apostles, and we follow inspired guidance from our parents and friends. We are always following the good example of others to become better ourselves. "When thou art converted, help thy brethren." See yourself in the Temple. It is a realistic goal. Work towards the blessings awaiting us in the Sacred Temple. No matter our difficulties and struggles, there is no broken soul that Heavenly Father can't mend. He will come to you, but He won't heal us against our will. Seek for His healing touch. 

Finally, I'd like to mention a bit from Elder Holland's closing remarks. His message really struck me and was really an answer to a few of my prayers and questions. Don't give up! The Gospel, the scriptures, the messages from the Prophets and Apostles are meant to give us hope. Satan takes those and makes us feel the truths are unrealistic and unobtainable. We get credit for trying even if we don't succeed.The Lord blesses those who want to improve, and try to improve. When we stumble on the road of life, call out to the Lord for help. He will help us get back up, and continue on. The first and great commandment is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, but the first great truth is that God loves us with all His heart, mind and soul. May God bless us tomorrow to remember how we felt this weekend during conference. 

I love you all! Stay safe, stay faithful, and continue on! 

Love,

Elder DiReda

Pictures:
1. Chocolaterie
2-4. Crazy faces with Salomé 
5/6. Conference









Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Week 32 - Cabane à Sucre

Salut à tous! 

How's springtime? I only ask because we are still having snow storms so I'm not too positive Québec even has spring. Anyways this week we had a great lesson with our investigators Sarah and Noémie. They both opened up more and we helped answer their questions using the Book of Mormon. For example, they asked why God allows bad things to happen in the world so we turned to 2 Nephi 2:11 and talked about opposition in all things as well as agency and how agency is a gift from God given to everyone, but the problem with agency is the consequences that follow certain actions. They also asked about how to find the motivation/strength to change their entire lifestyles around to live in accordance to the Gospel. With that question, we left them with Alma 32 to read.  We will talk with them about that next time.

On Saturday we were invited by Mark and his family (he was back in town from Texas for Easter) to go with them to their cousin's Cabane Sucre. This was my first cabane sucre and I had no idea what to expect. I had heard rumors that it's a giant potluck where you drench what you eat in syrup, as well as it being an event where you see how syrup is made from the maple water from the trees through all the processes. My experience was neither. Basically what happened was they gave us these small wooden spatulas and we stood behind this long trough-like structure made of wood that was filled with snow. 

Fresh maple syrup is then poured onto the snow in front of us and as it cools you wrap your wooden spatula in it and eat it like taffy. For a solid 10-15 minutes they would come around and pour more and more and let me tell you it was rich! So good though! That was only stage 1. Stage 2 was a plate of maple butter the size of my palm. SO MUCH SUGAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Inside the little store where you can buy maple products the air was thick with the smell of maple. I thought I was going to get a sugar high/diabetes just from being in there! Such a great experience though! 

How was everyone's Easter? We had an incredible talk and lesson on simplifying our discipleship (Elder Uchtdorf) and choosing liberty and Eternal Life (2 Nephi 1-2). We learned about simplifying our lives and focusing on basic truths as we move through more complicated times in our lives. What an incredible series of lessons for Easter as we reflected more on the Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. As we each spent time (introspection) considering things we need to change in our lives to be better and the mistakes we need forgiveness for I thought about how, at least for me in my life, the things I've struggled with have resulted from a lack of the simplifying. 

Busy days, late nights with homework and sports, left me in a condition where I never made time for scripture study and fervent prayer the way I should have. Without those two basic things in my daily life I became more stressed, less patient, more quickly angered, more selfish, judgmental and arrogant. Alma 37:6 "Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple means are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise." 

Even during my mission I've learned this lesson time and time again. Days are long, the work is at times hard and stressful, but we start everyday with a few hours of fervent dedicated study and prayer to start the day right. It brings the Spirit and puts you in a good mindset to go about the day in whatever lays before you. It brings a happiness and a feeling of love that is hard to lose. It puts the Savior and our Heavenly Father at the forefront of our minds where we constantly think of them and may say more silent prayers throughout our day. It teaches us things we may need that very day such as a message of charity, service, and kindness. 

By small and simple means, great things are brought to pass. Being in that mindset with the companionship of the Holy Ghost we are better able to be where the Lord needs us to lift another or to be an answer to a prayer. Never give up on the little things. They pave the way for miracles. 

I love you all and pray that you all had a safe and joyous Easter! I hope as we advance toward this General Conference weekend that we all do a bit of introspection and searching.  And I hope that as we listen to the words of our Prophet and his Apostles that we have open hearts and minds to find the things the Lord wants us to know. 

Stay safe, stay faithful!

Love,

Elder DiReda


Mark, Elder Perkes and I

Mark and his Family
Mark and I by the St. Lawrence 




Trough of snow and maple syrup
Don't even think about taking my
maple goodness
My wooden spoon


Elder Perkes loves maple syrup!!!
And so do I!!!!!!!

Maple butter - yum!!!





Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 31 - Easter

Well this week was chaotic to say the least. Since Elder Shaw was leaving after serving here for 9 months every one wanted us over for a last visit. On Monday we had dinner with the Puglisis and the Worners. The Puglisis made real Italian lasagna. It was so good! I'm not sure how they made it, but I know it involved eggs, ham, noodles, sauce and other ingredients that made it amazing!!! It was one of the best meals I've had since being out here! On 

Tuesday we visited Sœur Lafourtune, Chantale and Yvan and had one last English class. It was a lot of fun. It was cool to see the impact Elder Shaw had on the people we visited. It reassured me that we are making difference in people's lives and in the importance of the relationships we are establishing with these amazing children of God. 

On Wednesday we drove to Québec City and Elder Shaw got on his bus and left for Montréal. A few hours later my new companion Elder Perkes rolled in on another bus. Elder Perkes is from Logan, Utah, loves improv., doodling, and quoting movies/tv shows/comedians back and forth with me (similar to what my brother and I would do with the comedian John Pinette). 

While in Québec we went on splits with the Elders of St. Foy. Elder Noorda and I visited a member and shared with him the Easter video and gave him some pass along cards (if you haven't already I encourage you to watch it and share it). 

We also visited a member and had a discussion about General Conference. His name is Max and Max is amazing. He always has gospel questions that take us off on some tangents but we were able to help him answer his questions and we had a strong Spiritual lesson that ended with him committing to come to the institute to watch the Priesthood Session of General Conference. 

On Thursday we went to District Meeting!!! That doesn't seem like a big deal but when you spend 6 months hearing half of the meeting through the telephone it's a huge deal to be there in person! We talked about the Easter Initiative and how to best use the video and the cards. 

After District Meeting we went with the Ste. Foy Elders and got ice cream at Chocolat Favori. Now what they do is take a cone with vanilla ice cream and they dip it in hardening chocolate of your choice. Holy Cow it's incredible!!!!! Elder Perkes and I drove back to good 'ole Rimouski after that and I introduced him to Yvan, Ruud, Sœur Lafourtune, Michael (over the phone), André and Kathleen, and everyone else he met at church. 

I love this time of year and the power and Spirit that comes with the time of the Glorious Atonement of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection. The Spirit has been so strong as we've shared the video and talked of Christ with our members and our investigators. Why wouldn't it be? It's centralized on the single most important event in history. Through Jesus Christ and His Atonement we can find new life. We can be cleansed from our imperfections and start again. The Church has a 12 step program for addiction recovery and with each step there is a video and a story of someone's journey to recovery. One story that has really struck me powerfully is Step 6: Change of Heart: Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses. With this step and video this man has gone through the steps but doesn't feel better. He was still pained by everything he went through. At one point he recounts reading back through all the steps to see what he missed and on step 6 he could't remember truly praying and asking Heavenly Father to remove his character defects so he decided to do it.

"I didn't know what I was expecting to happen so I just thought to myself, if He was here, in front of me right now what would I want Him to say? And I thought well I just want Him to take it and say thanks I got this. But instead at that moment I heard a question and it was, will you let me take this? I realized I had done all this work to be relieved of this misery and that question, will you let me take this completely changed the trajectory of my recovery in my life. I had a good friend tell me recently of an African proverb that says, If there is no demon within, the demon outside can do you no harm."

We are all on a road to recovery from a state of imperfection and pain to incomprehensible happiness and perfection and that road is entirely dependent on our acceptance and faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. We have to be willing to let Him take our pains, sorrows, trials, and sins from us. When we allow Christ to enter our lives and to take our burdens we feel a giant weight be taken off our backs and we find the light in the dark times. I testify that is true. I have experienced it in my own life and my life has been changed because of it. I testify that Jesus is the Christ and He is our Savior and Redeemer and He will heal us if we let him. Three of the most meaningful words, in my opinion, that someone can say to us is, "I love you". How much more powerful are those words when we feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ saying them to us. Answers to our prayers are all around us, we just have to know where to look. 

I love you all and hope you have great weeks and as always stay safe and stay faithful! 

Happy Easter!!!!!

Love,

Elder DiReda


Service with Elder Perkes


Chocolat Favori with the St. Foy Elders


No explanation necessary

Elder Shaw and I with Soeur Lafourtune